North Tipperary author Brendan Lynch paid tribute to the late poet, Seamus Heaney, when he launched the autumn lecture series at Dublin’s James Joyce Cultural Centre on Monday.
The Toomevara man said: “Seamus Heaney was to poetry what Joyce was to prose. He represented the heart and the humour and the history of our small island. He was a real patriot, unlike the gunmen and the conmen of recent years.”
Mr Lynch described the Nobel Laureate as a very ordinary and approachable person.
“He contributed to a book I wrote on literary Dublin. And when illness prevented him helping with a later volume, he sent a gracious note, which was among the letters I displayed at a recent Nenagh Heritage Centre exhibition.”
He told the gathering that Mr Heaney’s death had caused sadness, but, like Joyce, we should celebrate that he left such a rare legacy which had enriched our lives and our reputation across the globe.
Mr Lynch’s opening autumn lecture was on James Joyce and the 1903 Gordon Bennett motor race. Joyce based a story in his book, Dubliners, on the event, and mentioned race winner Camille Jenatzy in Ulysses.
But, he revealed: “Joyce once said that opinion of motor racing mirrored the Shah of Persia’s reply to King Edward’s Ascot invitation; ‘I know that one horse runs quicker than another, but which particular horse it is doesn’t bother me’.”
Mr Lynch’s Triumph of the Red Devil book on the 1903 Gordon Bennett race was recently reissued in Dublin. It is the definitive account of the great early motor race, which attracted the world’s top drivers to Ireland, including the first US team to compete abroad.
The writer will also speak on literary Dublin with columnist Emer O’Kelly at the annual Patrick Kavanagh Remembered tribute in Dublin on Tuesday, September 10, in Buswell’s Hotel, Molesworth Street.